OPINION TrustedReviews’ new Games Editor Brett Phipps was a VR sceptic, but now he’s convert. He explains why.
There are many reasons I’ve been sceptical about virtual reality since Palmer Luckey first burst onto the scene in his khaki shorts and Hawaiian shirts (attire he still wears to this day, despite having more money than some continents).
It’s just too expensive, I’ll need to remortgage to afford a PC powerful enough to run it, and what if someone breaks in and steals everything around me while I’m in a virtual world, ironically, playing Thief?
At every turn, with every new announcement, I have thrown more roadblocks in the face of VR to keep it at arm’s length, making sure it remains something that’s “not for me”. The one consistent excuse for my resistance is that I’m a migraine sufferer, the first and most prevalent symptom of which is losing my vision, often caused by staring at computer screens for too long. The thought of two tiny screens right in front of my eyeballs isn’t a welcome one.
See also: PlayStation VR vs HTC Vive
Let’s get to the first, and most controversial subject: the price.
Twitter is everyone’s personal echo chamber. Following the conference my personal ‘Whinehouse’ consisted of two camps: Camp Yay leapt for joy when the retail price of £349 was announced, as people exclaimed words to the effect of “It’s so cheap! *smiley face emoticon*” or “It’s WAY cheaper than the Rift and Vive! *shock face emoticon*”.
Meanwhile, Camp Nay were sharp to respond with the insightful “It is NOT cheap! *angry face emoticon*” and “It’s still a very expensive piece of kit *sad face emoticon*”. As you can see, the people I follow love an emoticon.
Here’s the thing, both camps are right. £349 is an awful lot of money. To put my business hat on, and to crunch some numbers, that will buy you 34,900 1p sweets, or 349 £1 pick’n’mixes. However, £349, in the context of the price of a product where its nearest competitors are close to double that, is also cheap.
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The Oculus Rift retails at £499 while the Vive will cost £689. Also, if you lack the PC capable of supporting either of those headsets, then the PSVR represents your only option, and the fact it’s substantially cheaper is a bonus selling point.
This comes to my next point: convenience.
Convenience will always win over cost. It’s the reason you subscribe to Netflix and Blockbuster doesn’t exist anymore. You’ll also be more inclined to pay a couple pounds extra to digitally rent a film than go out and get a physical copy. We’re a lazy lot.
The PSVR has the perfect combination of convenience and cost. I have a console already capable of running the device, without adding a new graphics card which costs hundreds of pounds, and it’s also at a price that makes it the cheapest option.
The convenience of being able to experience VR without having to do any extra legwork meant it became a very attractive proposition.Yes, it was indeed very cheeky of Sony not to include a camera or Move controllers, two things which will be required for VR, the former especially. This pushes up the cost, though it’s still far cheaper than other, similar, devices. There have been rumblings that a bundle will be offered that will include both, so let’s wait and see.
See also: Where to pre-order PlayStation VR
In the end, the PlayStation VR is the only opportunity for console players like myself to experience virtual reality without whacking down upwards of £1,000 up front for the privilege, and that swayed me. I love new tech, and lack the self control to take the ‘wait and see’ approach.
It could be a fad on the same level as 3D, or it could be the next-big thing. We don’t know. But at least there’s an opportunity to see what all the fuss is about, and I think Sony has done a good job of making it a very attractive proposition.
P.S. If you’re one of the people who complained about the price of PlayStation VR, beware, I’ll be keeping a close eye on you come October when you tweet pictures with your shiny new headset.